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Showing posts from March, 2015

Good religion vs bad religion

A little background on this post...I was having a discussion (on Twitter) with the prominent religious journalism website GetReligion over the weekend. It analyzes the way reporters handle religion, faith-related news, and generally write about believers. Specifically, Terry Mattingly had a podcast interview where he was trying to explain that, no, the press doesn't hate religion and religious people. But he does think that the press feels there is "good" and "bad" religion. I'll let you head over there if you want more info. In a nutshell, his point is largely one about eternal truths. Religious conservatives tend to believe in unchanging absolutes while religious progressives tend to believe in doctrine which changes over time. And they see the unchanging absolutes camp as "crazy."

It actually wasn't a bad analysis. Though my comment to them on Twitter was that I'd go a little further. What role does the above have on public life? Terry&…

Are we living in a Parenting Golden Age?

The free range parenting debate that's been ignited by children wandering around neighborhoods and on subways by themselves brought an interesting conversation on Facebook the other day. The big question is: why? Why are we so paranoid about our children exploring by themselves or looking after their younger siblings...that's not how it was in the old days. The rule used to be "come home when the streetlights come on." My response was that it has something to do with the loss of our neighborhood networks, social isolation, and lack of community policing. Yet another way to go was that we live in a more dangerous world.

But here's the thing with that...we don't. If you look at crime rates, they're down. Across the board. Murder, violent crime, property crime. Yes, there are more people now. But the crime rate itself is pretty much back to where it was in the 1960's after a spike in the 1970's to 1990's. You can blame the news cycle for the cons…

Swim lessons

Both of my kids have previously had parent-child swim instruction.

In the case of my son, it was during the height of his sensory problems. Outdoors in one of our park district pools, the entire Olympic-size deck was swarming with children. His class was huge. And we stopped going after a few weeks because we would inevitably have to leave early from the screaming and crying. It wasn't worth it to force him and ruin the class for everybody else.

On the other hand, my daughter had parent-child swim--again through the park district--indoors at one of our high school's pools. Again with the crowded pool and chaos. But she loved us chasing after the rubber ducky, singing songs, and splashing around. She hated to dunk under the water, however, and the water was unusually cold for an indoor pool. So she'd end up shaking and shivering before the time was up. And, of course, no actual swim technique was presented. Plus, they were in the evening so she'd usually fall asleep in …

Geja's Cafe review

There's nothing I could possibly say either good or bad in this review that would help or hurt Geja's Cafe. They've been in business nearly 50 years as a classic fondue place. They're an intimate, romantic, special occasions restaurant who doesn't allow children and have a bit of a dress code. Which is rare, even in Chicago, these days when the rest of American culture is going casual kid-friendly. This was Part II of the birthday celebration after the museum.

The interior is crowded/cozy with a labyrinth of tables in various tiny rooms. The whole thing is on the bottom, semi-underground level of an Armitage townhouse on Chicago's northside. And there was a steady stream of people and full dining room even on an early Sunday evening at 6pm. You'll leave smelling like a unique blend of cooking oil and seafood and, with all the various fires for multiple cooking pots plus candle at each table, be prepared to be warm. On a pleasant, mild spring day outside it …

"Vikings" at The Field Museum review

I have new swim lessons, a dinner, and a museum exhibit to cover in the next few posts so hang in there. I'm starting with the exhibit just because I feel like there's probably more interest in hearing about it. But also because it was probably our favorite part of the day for DLP's birthday.

One of the reasons we picked The Field Museum is we both were interested in the new temporary exhibit and it's one of our favorites even if the kids don't find it enjoyable. So having a babysitter for the day was the perfect chance to visit. And "Vikings" didn't disappoint...from both the "quality" angle and in terms of not being kid-friendly. The exhibit is decidedly low-tech with artifact cases and long written displays to read. Whether you see this as a good thing or bad thing is up to you. We found it refreshingly old-fashioned, personally.

Be warned, it took us around an hour and 30 minutes to get from the entrance doors to the standard gift-shop-a…

Tot bowling report--Pinstripes w/Chicago Dads Group

I feel like I need to get something down quickly about our first time bowling this past week. The Mama's birthday is Sunday plus the kids are adding swim lessons to the schedule on Saturday so I'll have quite a bit to write about next week

Once again, shout out to Chicago Dads Group. Plus, the wonderful location for our playgroup this time...Pinstripes!

What you need to know:
From 10am-noon each day most of the Pinstripe locations offer Tots Playtime where kids bowl for $5 each (that includes shoes!). As many games as you like. Adults bowl (and rent shoes) free. Though we chose to just help the kids this time and were glad of it. (Chaos!)

We'd originally scheduled to do this with the dads group in February right around the time the kids were both ill. And, like all the usual activities, it can be hard for us to get away in the morning somewhere and make it back to preschool at noon. But one game was really all we needed. We'd made it to the 9th frame when my 4 year old…

Some thoughts on the D97 school board race...

Even as an active, informed citizen, last night's school board candidate forum was like watching paint dry. But I'm glad I went! I wasn't there to support anybody since I've never met any of them--just listen to the viewpoints and decide who I want to vote for in April. With 10 candidates to choose from and only 4 open slots, it was tough to sit and listen to all the various positions on the 4 questions that were asked. Each person got 2 minutes to briefly answer each pre-selected question. So the whole thing took nearly 2 hours. I would have liked to ask my own questions, but with so many candidates it was impossible to decide at the end who I wanted to corner for a chat. (There are more forums before the election.)

I had my mind changed about a couple of people. And, even if I didn't really get my most-pressing topics addressed, I did get a nice overview of who is capable of doing the job. The good news is you could almost randomly pick a name in the voting booth…

Saucony Guide 8 review

First off, a big thank you to the lone woman working at The Runner's Soul in Elmhurst on Sunday. She was fitting 3 customers for shoes, each of us trying on multiple pairs with firm opinions, plus my kids wandering around, all by herself with a smile on her face. She deserves special recognition as a superior employee. She was very helpful! 
A little a high school cross country and track runner who was frequently getting injured, I used to wear the old boxy Saucony back in the day. When I came back to running as an adult, I'd been an Adidas wearer for several pairs. Those of you who are longtime readers will remember my review and brand switch to Asics this last pair. I had no serious complaints though both heels on the inside of the shoe mysteriously wore away the fabric. Very odd defect. My other comments after years of miles on them would be that they were heavier, boxy, and a bit bland for color when the current trend is flashy. 
I'd worn the Asics thr…

Warmer weather means watch for runners & cyclists

With temperatures headed into the 50's this week and the snow melting, many of us are looking forward to our first runs and rides of the season. Motorists have gone a few months without seeing us everywhere, so it will take them some time to remember again to check alley exits and move over to pass, etc.. Everybody stay safe out there.

I've been debating whether to get myself a Garmin Virb lately. Less because I want to see my rides over again in HD, and more for the security factor. I like the insurance that a good bike camera can provide in the event of an accident. Having a license plate number can be valuable in finding drivers who flee the scene. But on the other hand, police don't really investigate video evidence unless there is injury or a very serious crime. Drivers harassing cyclists comes to mind as an example of how they've been used. My run-ins with motorists tend to be fairly light, however, and I'm more likely to use it to capture wildlife by the cre…

The science against GMOs

I debated whether this belongs on my main blog or over at the new agriculture blog. It's politics. And farming. And science. So I'm saying 2 out of 3 means it goes here. It comes with a healthy dose of "I don't care about Ted Cruz." He's a moron and has about as much chance of becoming President of the United States as me. I worry none about anything he thinks. But he did say something interesting yesterday.

His criticism in Iowa was of the anti-science label that gets thrown at Republicans despite the fact that--as Ted Cruz sees it--the left is questioning the science on climate change, food labeling, and biotechnology. This is the same Republican Party that has a significant block that doesn't believe in evolution. So we'll take his criticism with a grain of salt even if it brings up a good chance to talk about food science. 
Cruz argued yesterday, among other things, for "volunteer conservation" rather than EPA regulation. And he argued f…

The dark history of "Skip To My Lou"

If you've been a reader for awhile, you'll know that one of my areas of interest is the weird back story to common things we don't think about anymore. Kids' songs and nursery rhymes are especially ripe for this sort of fascinating annotation. Today's example is the (I thought) nonsensical "Skip To My Lou."

It's actually a dance. A very weird, sexually charged dance. Think Kevin Bacon in Footloose.

You see, early American religious types didn't like...well, they didn't like much. No dancing. No fiddles--those are evil. So you can see how socializing could be difficult without music or something fun to do. But there was a way around it...the play party. (Fair warning if you're going to Google, you want the historical version from the 1800's, not the other kind.) These evolved as a kind of folk workaround in which the participants would clap and sing. As it moved West, it would become that classic activity we know as square dancing and b…

Flirting with baseball

Driving home from my kids' school the other day, I heard a Spring Training analysis on our local public radio station about how the Chicago baseball teams were shaping up for this season. The consensus is that they both still suck...less so than last season. But probably not "better" enough to be competitive. 
One of the reporters had an experience similar to mine, however, and his metaphorical language was both amusing and dead-on I thought. He explained that his favorite team, the Cubs, had been through a messy divorce but he was thinking about getting back together with his ex-wife. At this point it was just coffee, but we all know where that leads. It was a cute way of looking at it. 
This morning was the pre-sale for individual tickets to Wrigley Field. In case you hadn't heard, the Cubs are doing renovations including knocking down the bleachers to replace them, putting in giant signs and video boards, and instituting a war on the rooftop owners. All while supp…